Our Story Begins:
You Are NOT A Plus-Sized Model

I will be the first to admit, I’m a guy.  I complain about my weight, the curved nature of my stomach hanging out in front of me.  My shirts used to hang straight down and I could see my shoelaces.  I’m closer, but not there yet.  Still, as much as I complain I have never laid claim that I was either “fit” in my youth or that I am “fat” now.

So imagine my consternation – as I try to balance health, fitness and eating with self-image in my house – when I see a headline about Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence saying she’s “plus-sized” in Hollywood.

Really?  I mean . . . really?!

Listen, I applaud her stance.  She won’t go on crash diets.  She won’t let Hollywood dictate how she looks.  Bravo!  Then she adds, “I wanted Katniss to look ‘fit’ and lean.”

This is her job.  She has to be fit, lean, powerful.  She’s paid extraordinary amounts of money to do it and as such gets to have a trainer who monitors what she eats and how she works out.  Every day.  Screw that up, the great gig as Katniss goes away.  I am thrilled she refuses to be like Carrie Fisher and lose ten pounds off an already attractive visage because producers simply tell her to.


Hannah Manoucheri


Still, I’m not a teenaged girl, but I never heard anyone around me say “that Jennifer Lawrence, she’s cute but man, if she just lost another 10 or 20 pounds she’d be hot!”    Even the cover calls her the “Hunger Games Bombshell”.  In fact, I don’t know that I’ve heard anything but how great she looks.  This isn’t her fault.  It’s a portion of a very large interview in most magazines.  But the mere fact that the magazine brings it up bothers me.  It’s not just because I’m raising two girls, either, but that’s a factor.

In the last year we’ve worked on weight and exercise in my house.  That doesn’t mean we belittle those with problems in our house.  We never call people “fat” and we don’t make fun at someone who needs to lose a few pounds.  We all do, too.


Picture of Andrea

Here’s why:

My wife, Andrea, fought her weight her whole life.  She was constantly belittled as being overweight, even in high school when she was 5 foot 10 and a lithe, sinewy member of the flag corps.  When I met her she weighed about as much as I did.  She was smart, cute, and curvy: not Botticelli curvy, but Marilyn Monroe curvy.

Our middle child, Hannah, deals with the same things.  She weighs more than she should.  I have started waking her up to exercise and limiting her portions to what are standard for her age and activity level.  But genetics are genetics.  She will struggle every day just like her Mom did.  Right now?  She needs to lose weight.  In trying not to be like those who belittled her mother, I have to find ways to prod her to losing weight and getting healthy without making her feel about two inches tall for being heavy.  It’s not just her fault, it’s mine, too.

Then comes the character in the books she’s read telling her that Hollywood says Katniss is “plus sized” and I see her head droop.  Just the mention of it affects girls, so why even bring it up?!



andrea manoucheri framed

Think it can’t have an effect?  After my wife had our first child, her body changed.  Her pelvis shifted – as it does with all women – and her curves were…curvier.  She grew subconscious about her stomach having lost its tightness.  She gained and lost weight but I never ever saw her as anything but attractive.  Still, she would have low points and ask me if I was going to leave her because she was “fat.”  She would see people I’d cover in my job or reporters I worked with who had clauses in contracts saying they couldn’t change substantially and she thought she wasn’t worthwhile.

I never thought she was fat.  Even when she got sick and gained a substantial amount of weight I’d stop her from saying it.  She was still the same woman I’d known.  I wanted her to change because I wanted her to be with us for years to come.  I wanted her healthy again.  Unfortunately, having gained that weight hurt her chances of recovery from a resistant strain of pneumonia.

So yes . . . by all means Jennifer Lawrence and Elle magazine, tell people that you’ll eat a hamburger when you want to eat a hamburger.  But have you thought about the message you’ve sent my daughters?  Rather than state the obvious issue, why not address the problem?


What about you?  Do you make that fat joke or poke fun?  Are you guilty of reading a magazine and saying “well…her hips are sticking out a bit more…”  Think about what you’re reading and saying, and who it might affect in your life.

Dave Manoucheri is a writer and journalist based in Sacramento, California.  A father of four, two daughters and twin sons, his blog, Our Story Begins, is a chronicle of their daily life after the loss of his wife Andrea, in March of 2011. Follow him on Twitter @InvProducerMan.